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Knowledge Management in Innovative or Complex Inter-Organizational Arrangements: How to Effectively Share, Transfer, Integrate and Apply Dispersed Knowledge


Special issue call for papers from Journal of Knowledge Management

The submission portal for this special issue will open January 1, 2020.

Guest Editors Teams

Journal of International Management

Prof. Manlio Del Giudice (Lead Guest Editor), University of Rome “Link Campus”, ITALY, [email protected]
Prof. Masaaki Kotabe, Temple University, USA, [email protected]
Prof. Shlomo Tarba, University of Birmingham, UK, [email protected]
Prof. Arvind Malhotra, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, [email protected]
Prof. Fábio Lotti Oliva, University of São Paulo, BRAZIL, [email protected]

Journal of Knowledge Management

Prof. Masaaki Kotabe (Lead Guest Editor), Temple University, USA, [email protected]
Prof. Fábio Lotti Oliva, University of São Paulo, BRAZIL, [email protected]
Prof. Ke Rong, Tsinghua University, CHINA, [email protected]

The complexity of the business environment has significantly increased over time. Globalization, technological innovation, new international financial flows, climate change, and social change are some of the main elements present in the administrative equation imposed on current managers (Merritt, 1974; Chakravarthy, 1997; Weber and Tarba, 2014). Recently, the corporate world has incorporated the acronym VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) that expresses the speed of change, the unpredictability of events, the multiplicity of forces, and various ways of seeing reality that respectively best describe the environment. (Bennis and Nanus, 1985).

With the most volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment, organizations need to look for denser strategic management tools to cope with constant change (Ambrosini and Bowman, 2009; Oliva et al., 2018). One of the administrative responses is the adoption of new organizational structures that can make organizations more efficient and effective in the face of administrative trends such as open innovation, digital transformation and global presence (Dyer and Singh, 1998; Matricano et al., 2019).

A number of companies work in different inter-organizational arrangements establishing transactions that involve sharing strategies, customers, suppliers, material resources, financial resources and other elements of common value to develop products and services. These inter-organizational arrangements seek to make the organizations involved more agile to better meet market demands in a more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment. Developing capabilities that enable you to read the changing demands of the business environment, propose internal change to prepare the organization, and develop products and services that meet the changing demands are the desired organizational or inter-organizational dynamic capabilities in this new context (Teece, Pisano and Shuen, 1997; Kothari, Kotabe and Murphy, 2013, Del Giudice and Maggioni, 2014; Sarala, Cooper, Junni and Tarba, 2016).

An intriguing point is to understand how these new inter-organizational arrangements promote knowledge management. Considering the knowledge management process as a set of stages of knowledge definition, acquisition, dissemination, storage, application and evaluation, it is important to understand how organizations work at each stage of knowledge management to develop new products, in product production, customer service or product distribution in the local and international context.

In this context, considering the multinational companies (MNCs) as an example of analysis, knowledge management (KM) has become one of the most important factor to allow continuous value creation (Del Giudice and Maggioni, 2014), improve customer values (Xue, 2017) and increase innovativeness (Jiménez-Jiménez, Martínez-Costa and Sanz-Valle, 2014), thus improving overall firm performances. This forced MNCs to rethink the role of KM within the organization, usually bringing it out of its functional research and development (R&D) silo with the aim at integrating it into the firm intra- and inter-organizational processes (Mudambi, 2002). As a consequence, the domain of knowledge management started to attract higher scholarly interest from the well-established international business stream of literature (e.g. Buckley, 2002), thus cross fertilizing research in the two fields of interest.

Although an effort has been directed to study the role of knowledge in the internationalization process (e.g. Martin and Salomon, 2003), the knowledge transfer among and across networks (Tallman and Chacar, 2011; Del Giudice, Maggioni & Carayannis, 2017) and the reverse knowledge transfer (RKT) between foreign subsidiary and HQ (e.g. Mudambi, Piscitello & Rabbiosi, 2014) many research gaps still exist. For example, we still know very little about the selection and application of specific KM processes that are more effective to support the international expansion (i.e. knowledge sourcing, transferring and exploiting) as well as the KM tools that are more useful for the recombination of external and internal organizational knowledge, thus improving the overall management of cross cultural knowledge that resides in culturally different host countries in which MNCs operate, that is nowadays crucial in the international arena.

Taking startups and their inter-organizational relationships as an example, considering that they are temporary organizations whose business model is based on the conception of innovation, the proposition of a solution that transforms a problem, and the scalability that is configured in the broad offer to society, it is found that they are agile organizations that generate knowledge and are dependent on knowledge to play their transformative role (Oliva and Kotabe, 2019).  In this sense, startups use the concept of open innovation to achieve their growth goals and thus, the effectiveness of dispersed knowledge management is a decisive factor (Spender et al., 2017). In the international context, the born global startups are highly demanding of knowledge about the local markets where they will operate, the compliance with the various legislations and the competences of potential innovation partner suppliers (Knight and Cavusgil, 2004; Cavusgil and Knight,2015; Yoon and Hughes, 2016).

A third example to consider is the importance of knowledge management in supply chains. Supply chain management has assumed a leading operations strategy position in the manufacturing and services sectors (Samuel, Goury, Gunasekaran and Spalanzani, 2011). Knowledge sharing increases the potential for innovation of the agents involved, production of higher quality products, cost reduction in general (Cheng and Fu, 2013). There are some theoretical gaps regarding the accumulation of knowledge and the problems of obsolescence of knowledge in production chains (Marra, Ho and Edwards, 2012).

Recommended areas of research
This is a special issue jointly organized by Journal of Knowledge Management and Journal of International Management, and urges you to develop research on various topics related to the central theme, knowledge management in various inter-organizational arrangements in the national and international contexts. Emblematic case studies, action research in large corporations, research in multinational firms, sectoral quantitative research, research in inter-organizational networks, qualitative and quantitative research in the national or international context are some examples. We welcome conceptual and empirical papers using a diverse range of methods that address topics such as the indicative themes outlined below:

General topics:

  • Knowledge management in different inter-organizational arrangements
  • Knowledge management in born global start-ups
  • The cultural, social, institutional, geographical or economic dimensions in knowledge management in international inter-organizational arrangements
  • Knowledge management in agile organizations
  • Knowledge management in projects with open innovation
  • Barriers, critical success factors and best practices in knowledge management in inter-organizational arrangements
  • Dispersed knowledge management in product development in inter-organizational arrangements
  • The role of the leading knowledge management company in the different inter-organizational arrangements
  • Dynamic capabilities in knowledge management in different inter-organizational arrangements
  • The stages of knowledge management in different inter-organizational arrangements
  • Risk analysis in knowledge management in different inter-organizational arrangements
  • Ethical dilemmas in knowledge management in different inter-organizational arrangements
  • The complexity of knowledge management in new product development, product production, customer service or product distribution in the local and international context

Specific topics:

  • Which are the key factors and organizational antecedents that drive knowledge sharing, seeking and transfer in Inter-Organizational Arrangements?
  • How R&D internationalization choices may be rethought in the light of the development of a systematic firm KM orientation?
  • Which KM tools should be developed by knowledge-intensive enterprises (KIEs) to transfer and integrate cross cultural knowledge?
  • How do firms manage ownership of intellectual property in inter-organizational arrangements? 
  • How the management of internal and external organizational knowledge can be exploited to develop sustainable competitive advantages?
  • Which is the link among internationalization, reverse knowledge transfer, social capital and organizational innovation within MNCs?
  • How knowledge management affects the process of internationalization of emerging markets multinational companies (EMNCs)?
  • How the sourcing of external global knowledge (i.e. from global suppliers or from specialised “innomediaries”) impact the innovation performance of MNCs?
  • How MNCs develop KM tools or processes to “protect” or “hide” relevant knowledge from competitors?
  • How firms manage the dispersed nature of knowledge for product development and how a leader firm would evolve in such an arrangement?
  • What is the role of subsidiaries in managing spatially separate knowledge sources within and across MNC organizational boundaries?

Important deadlines
Manuscript submission deadline: March, 31, 2020 (earlier submission is highly encouraged);
Publication expected: by mid-2021

Author guidelines, submission and review process

This call for papers has been jointly presented on both the Journal of International Management (JIM) and in the Journal of Knowledge Management (JKM), but with two different teams of Guest Editors. The aims and the scope of this first Joint Call for Papers is to collect, on the two respective journals, a premiere and top quality set of the most cutting-edge studies and researches focusing on crucial aspects of knowledge management in international contexts. Nevertheless, even if the Call for Papers is the same on the two journals, papers dealing more specifically with formal strategies of knowledge management in national or international based contexts should be addressed for submission to the JKM, while papers involving international dimensions, including cultural, institutional, geographic, and economic (e.g. developed country vs developing country), should be instead submitted to the JIM. Submitted papers which will be considered out of fit for one journal, may be addressed from the Lead Guest Editor to the other journal, if the topics are reputed more fitting with its core aims and scope.

Manuscripts for both the Journal of International Management and the Journal of Knowledge Management are subject to a double-blind peer review process. To format the manuscripts, prospective authors are invited to consult the Journal’s guideline, which can be retrieved from the respective webpages:

Journal of International Management: https://www.elsevier.com/journals/journal-of-international-management/1075-4253/guide-for-authors;

Journal of Knowledge Management: http://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=jkm

Manuscripts should be submitted through these web pages. Authors should select the special issue title from the drop-down menu while submitting online, in order to be considered for this special issue. Informal enquiries are valued, and can be directed to the guest editors.

Journal of International Management:
https://www.evise.com/profile/#/INTMAN/login

Journal of Knowledge Management:
https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jkm

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